The debate on gun control has been happening all over the world but especially in the U.S it has been a passionate, emotive, and controversial issue. Those who support gun control through laws and policies say that it will lead to a reduction in the number of crimes. Examples of some of the most common gun-related crimes include domestic homicides, mass shootings, and robberies.
Michael Siegel, a public health researcher for Boston University, has concluded that: “Gun control has been effective in preventing crimes often committed using these weapons such as shootings it also helps in keeping guns out of the wrong hands” (Siegel 2102). However, while these are fundamental ways in which gun control can help reduce crime, there are those who believe that such laws and policies are rarely effective. Indeed, opponents of gun control often contend that guns deter criminals thus reducing crime. The opposition may also argue that restricting gun ownership does not always succeed in denying the wrong people access to guns. Despite the legitimate arguments by those opposed to gun control, evidence suggests that such laws and policies tackle crime by reducing mass shootings, making homes safer, and reducing the gravity or intensity of crime.
Gun control is one of the most effective ways of reducing mass shootings. Statistics on various incidents of mass shootings that have occurred in the U.S show that the guns used in these shootings were purchased legally (Schildkraut and Tiffany 359). Indeed, in a comprehensive study conducted by news organization Mother Jones , “over the past four decades, about 74 percent of the guns used in mass shootings were acquired through the right procedures as prescribed by the law” (Kleck 29). Considering these statistics, the argument for gun control is quite legitimate in terms of how people get their guns. However, the idea behind gun control through laws and policies is to deny ‘potentially dangerous people’ the opportunity of owning guns. And defining potentially dangerous as anyone who has a history of violent behavior or plausible reason in which they should not have access to a gun. Stiff laws and policies such as this will make the society safer from cases of mass shootings because guns will not be in the hands of people who can use them to devastating effects. An example of how gun control could have been used to control crime, and in a particular mass shooting, is the case of Stephen Paddock.
In 2017, Paddock shot at and killed 58 innocent people and wounded 500 more when he positioned himself at a perch in a hotel before shooting into the crowd below him at an outdoor event in Las Vegas.(LVMPD 110) Investigations into the shooter revealed that since 1982 with many of them being rifles. When someone buys numerous rifles, a seller is supposed to alert the bureau. However, this requirement is not legally binding since there are no federal laws making it mandatory for sellers to report such buyers. Having so many guns (47 in the case of Paddock) in the hands of a dangerous person is something that can be corrected by stiffer laws and policies.
The number of homicides happening in homes has been high around the world. As the U.S Department of Justice avers, domestic abusers and guns are a dangerous combination (U.S Department of Justice, 2012). Gun control helps in reducing the likelihood of this combination because it restricts access to firearms among people who are likely to commit domestic violence or who have a history of engaging in this crime. Laws that restrict such individuals from owning firearms are examples of gun restrictions. According to Petrosky, “ approximately half of all women who are killed in the U.S die in the hands of their current or former intimate partner with guns being the most used weapon” (Petrosky 741). Some states have made legitimate strides in implementing such laws. These laws are necessary due to the fact that domestic violence can be potentially lethal. The issue becomes more complicated when one considers the number of children who live in such homes. Examples of gun restrictions that have been used successfully in ensuring that more people who are potentially domestic violence perpetrators and those that have a history of committing these crimes include background checks and mandatory surrender of firearms (Siegel 2101). Overall, gun restrictions will reduce homicide crimes and shootings happening in homes thus making homes safer for all and especially for the most vulnerable.
Gun control in its most basic form serves to reduce the gravity or intensity of crimes. This position recognizes the fact that gun control cannot completely reduce the number of crimes however, it can reduce the casualties of these crimes. For instance, Lott states, “ most of the mass shootings that have occurred over the past thirty years have been committed using high-capacity magazines and assault weapons” (Lott 126). “High-capacity magazines can be defined as an ammunition feeding device that has the potential of accepting more than ten rounds, and an assault weapon is a semi-automatic firearm that can accept a magazine and contains additional features that make the weapon even more lethal” (Lott 126). These features include folding stock and a pistol grip. High-capacity magazines and assault weapons often increase the fatality of shootings. In addition, since these weapons are capable of killing many people within a short p of time, they increase the number of fatalities and casualties in the event of a shooting.
Therefore, it turns acts that could have simply been murders into mass murders. The advantage of gun control is that it will restrict these options without necessarily limiting gun ownership. One of the most fundamental counter-arguments on gun control as cited by its many opponents is that it increases crime. Indeed, one of the main reasons why many Americans are hostile to further gun control is the belief that people are safer when they are free to purchase guns so that they defend themselves (Hemenway 502). Today, more people feel more secure owning a gun because they understand that in the event of an attack, they will be able to defend themselves or even prevent the crime from occurring. For instance, the idea of teachers carrying guns in school has been one of the measures that have the potential of reducing school shootings.
This position has often been advocated for by the National Rifle Association and in 2018, received the backing of President Trump who observed that arming teachers turns schools into hardened targets. When more people are allowed to own guns, it makes them safer from gun-related crimes. Admittedly, an armed attacker would not be confident about targeting an individual or home that has a gun (Hemenway 503). There are many cases of stories all over the media of people using their guns to defend themselves from attacks. Therefore, guns make societies safer and gun control only aggravates crime. Gun restrictions do not always succeed in denying the wrong people access to guns. Admittedly, a person who is determined to acquire a firearm will circumvent gun control until he or she succeeds in acquiring one or several guns. The war on drugs is a perfect example of how restrictions rarely succeed in making something inaccessible. Indeed, if one wants to use crack cocaine or meth they can still do it despite the fact that there is a law restricting ownership of these drugs.
Therefore, it will be inaccurate to suggest that gun control would succeed since other laws with similar intentions have failed. Therefore, gun control does not decrease crime because individuals who are determined to acquire a weapon will do so. In addition, gun control laws and policies tend to put restrictions on individuals who already own guns as opposed to addressing the problems caused by criminals with guns in society (Kleck 499). As such, innocent gun owners are understandably skeptical about gun control from the fear that it could eventually result in confiscation. Confiscation as a measure of gun control without dealing with the loopholes that criminals use to acquire firearms will only increase crime.
In conclusion, though the nation of America was built on the right to own firearms, this right has over the years become fundamentally emotive and controversial. Over recent years, the wave of mass shootings has reopened the debate on gun control with one side of this conversation asserting that such laws and policies are ineffective in addressing crime. On the other hand, proponents of gun control argue that selecting who can buy, sell, or possess a firearm is one of the best measures of reducing crime. However, gun control debates tend to be based on emotions as opposed to real facts. The facts indicate that more guns lead to more gun-related deaths it also intensifies the rate of and intensity of particular crimes. Therefore, though gun control cannot control all violence, it can significantly help in making the community safer by reducing crime.
Cook, Philip J., Anthony A. Braga, and Mark H. Moore. Gun control. Crime and public policy , 2011, pp. 257-292.
Hemenway, David. Risks and Benefits of a Gun in the Home. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine , vol. 5, no. 6, 2011. pp. 502-511.
Kleck, Gary, Marc Gertz, and Jason Bratton. Why do people support gun control?: Alternative explanations of support for handgun bans. Journal of Criminal Justice , vol. 37, no. 5, 2009, pp. 496-504.
Kleck, Gary. Large-capacity magazines and the casualty counts in mass shootings: the plausibility of linkages Justice Research and Policy , vol. 17, no. 1, 2016, pp. 28-47.
Lott, John R. More guns, less crime: Understanding crime and gun control laws . University of Chicago Press, 2013. Petrosky, Emiko. Racial and ethnic differences in homicides of adult women and the role of intimate partner violence—the United States, 2003–2014. MMWR. Morbidity and mortality weekly report , vol. 66, no. 28, 2017, pp. 741-746.
Schildkraut, Jaclyn, and Tiffany Cox Hernandez. Laws that bit the bullet: A review of legislative responses to school shootings. American Journal of Criminal Justice , vol. 39, no. 2, 2014, pp. 358-374.
Siegel, Michael, Craig S. Ross, and Charles King III. The relationship between gun ownership and firearm homicide rates in the United States, 1981–2010. American journal of public health , vol. 103, no. 11, 2013, pp. 2098-2105.
United States Congress, LVMPD, Force Investigation Team, and Sheriff Joseph Lombardo. “LVMPD Criminal Investigative Report of the 1 October Mass Casualty Shooting.” LVMPD Criminal Investigative Report of the 1 October Mass Casualty Shooting , 171001st-3519th ed., Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, 2018, pp. 1–187.
U.S Department of Justice. Firearm and domestic violence . USA.gov . 13 December 2012 https://www.justice.gov/archives/ovw/blog/firearms-and-domestic-violence-intersections.
Wallace, Lacey N.Responding to violence with guns: Mass shootings and gun acquisition. The Social Science Journal , vol. 52, no. 2, 2015, pp.156-167.
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